Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton claimed his third world drivers title by winning a very unpredictable and exciting United States Grand Prix. The race had everything, changeable conditions, overtaking, driver errors, virtual and physical safety cars; all of which made the USGP the most exciting race of the season.
The start of the race was, I would suggest very damp which suited Red Bull, but the Mercedes duo got off the line best, Hamilton getting the slightly better start and nudged Rosberg off track at turn one, which allowed Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo to move into second and third place coming out of turn one.
Behind the front few rows, the two Sauber’s collided at turn 1 spreading debris all over the track, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso also tangled and dropped to the back of the field. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel made a huge start to climb from 13th to seventh avoiding the first corner melee. Jenson Button also made a good start to climb to 9th by the start of lap 2 benefiting from his team mates crash with Massa.
A number of drivers, notably Valteri Bottas decided to try their hand at driving on slicks after the first lap, but all the drivers that took a gamble on slicks came back in a couple of laps later to return to intermediate tyres as the slicks were 30+ seconds slower than the intermediates. On lap 5 the stewards finally decided to call for a virtual safety car to pick up the debris at turn 1 from the first lap incidents.
As the virtual safety car ended, Nico Rosberg pounced on Ricciardo to snatch third on lap 8 and later in the same lap, overtook Kvyat for second place. The Russian came back at the German on lap 13, but went off track at the final turn, not only failing to make the move stick, but also allowed his team mate Ricciardo move upto third place, before the Australian made the move on Rosberg for second at turn 1.
Ricciardo went on to chase down Hamilton and overtook the Briton on lap 15, clearly the Red Bull was much faster in the damp conditions, but as the track dried out, the Mercedes power unit made light work of passing the Renault powered Red Bulls. Kimi Raikkonen who had been battling with the Toro Rosso’s and Force india’s made a mistake in tricky conditions on slicks sliding off into the barrier, the Finn managed to recover to the pits, but ultimately retired with overheating brakes after the incident.
In the meantime, Vettel was slowly moving his way up the field to be in P3 by the 35th lap taking the position away from Ricciardo, the Australian also lost fourth place to young charger and stablemate Max Vestappen. At this time, the Mercedes duo were running 1-2 with Rosberg leading the pair and Hamilton’s dream of taking the title at COTA was fading as Mercedes pitted Rosberg under the the VSC caused by the collision between Hulkenberg and Ricciardo, but not Hamilton, disadvantaging the Briton.
But it was to be Hamilton’s day after-all, a second safety car was deployed due to Danill Kyvat hitting the barrier and bouncing back across the track on lap 43, ending the Russian’s race. This allowed Mercedes to pit Hamilton under SC conditions, putting him back in contention. Rosberg managed to maintain his lead through the restart, but made a mistake on lap 48, which allowed the Briton to take the lead.
Alonso, after recovering to sixth behind team mate Button after his first corner incident had more bad luck, his new “improved” Honda power unit was losing power, dropping him back to 10th and eventually out of the points on the final lap as Ricciardo stole the final point. Button made a late stop from 5th place for fresh tyres which dropped him back to eighth place, but recovered to sixth in the remaining 12 laps.
Mentions for Max Verstappen, solid battling drive to claim fourth place for himself and Toro Rosso, STR team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr battled hard to claim seventh place while Sergio Perez again scored good points for Force India with a solid fifth place finish while his team mate crashed out. Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Nasr and Daniel Ricciardo round out the top 10 with only 12 cars taking the chequered flag.
The results of the United States Grand Prix means Hamilton becomes a 3 time world champion equaling his idol Ayrton Senna. Rosberg had a face like a smacked arse on the podium and post race interviews, throwing a #2 hat at Hamilton in the cool down room after the Briton tossed the hat to Rosberg. I thoroughly enjoyed this race, which has not been the case for much of the season, a little bit of water on the track works wonders. Maybe Bernie was onto something with his on track sprinkler system idea?
2015 United States Grand Prix Results
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:50:52.703
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) +2.800
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +3.300
4. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) +22.300
5. Sergio Perez (Force India) +24.400
6. Jenson Button (McLaren) +28.000
7. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +30.600
8. Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) +32.200
9. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) +40.200
10. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +53.300